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Subject: Re: New 30gb mp3 jukebox by polaroid.
From: Marcus Bryner (marcus_at_docbryner.com)
Date: 2004-07-03


I hope it's not all hype either, but it's a little late to cancel my order.
Guess I'll try it out and see/hear if it's any good. If it's crap I'll send
it back. At any rate, I'll let you know how bad (or good) it is. I'm not
too fond of their UI either--and I like direct access to the files in a
directory/tree format like Rockbox. And I found a couple of database syncer
programs for Linux. The HiSi thing is a gimmick I don't use anyway.

Are there any other alternative players that this list would recommend, that
have the *eventual* potential of having Rockbox ported to them, now that my
AJB is not functional?

Marcus

On Friday 02 July 2004 09:41 pm, Neon John wrote:
> I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're just an
> enthusiast that has been taken in by the DI hype and not a shill for
> them.
>
> I got taken in last year by their "real soon now" promises of doing what
> they
> said they'd do - release the sources - and bought a Gen I unit to
> evaluate as
> a potential RockBox host. This was maybe the worst piece of consumer
> electronics sh*t I've ever laid my hands on. And that's saying
> something.
>
> You don't actually have yours yet so let me describe things.
>
> I could not imagine a worse user interface. It is a rigidly structured
> database architecture that forces the user into doing things one way and
> one
> way only. That way MIGHT be OK if all one wants to do is linearly
> listen to
> albums. God help you if you want to build useful playlists, listen to
> audio
> books or any of the other stuff we take for granted with RockBox.
>
> One of the potentially best features, the built-in FM transmitter is
> useless
> in practice. The reason is that they turn off the carrier whenever
> something
> isn't actually playing. Press pause or stop and you get an ear blast of
> interstation hiss. Or more likely, several adjacent stations blaring at
> once.
> The deviation is low so one must crank up the volume on the FM receiver.
> That
> means the hiss literally blasts your ears and the stereo system.
>
> The thing they seem to advertise the most, HiSi is, for the most part
> worthless. Maybe if I lived in a closet and only listened to Top 40
> music I
> might find it useful. I don't and don't. I really don't know how well
> it
> works because it never actually worked for me. I know the names and
> groups of
> the familiar music I listen to. The stuff I don't know is likely to be
> odd or
> obscure. I fired it off against some of the more eclectic stuff the
> local
> NPR/college station plays and got zero hits. The reason is obvious -
> for the
> function to work, someone must encode the songs and put them in the
> database.
>
> The only thing worse than the user interface is the desktop software.
> You
> know it's going to be a mess when it insists on installing that virus
> transport facility and spyware crap called microsoft .net. Once
> installed, it
> takes over your computer and brings it to its knees. My 2 gig laptop
> was
> barely useable whenever the software was running. That's just the start
> of
> the nightmare.
>
> Unlike the Archos where you simply copy audio files over and play them,
> the
> Neuros forces you to first install the music in the desktop database.
> For the
> approx 18 GB of material that duplicated what was on my FMR, it took
> just
> about 24 hours of crunching and gobs of disc space. It took about that
> long
> again to copy the stuff over to the Neuros. Only part of the problem
> was the
> USB 1.1 interface. But my Studio 10 could be loaded in just a few hours
> using
> the same interface.
>
> Neuros says that music files can be copied directly to the hard drive.
> That
> is true but they can't be played there until they're crunched into the
> database. That's a case of telling the technical truth while telling an
> actual lie.
>
> The desktop software is SO bad that someone wrote a Java replacement.
> Unlike
> most piggy software written in Java, this thing is a speed demon
> compared to
> the OEM stuff. The big problem with this software was (I haven't
> updated in
> several months so it may have changed) that it lost all playlists
> anytime a
> change was made to a database.
>
> Initially I loaded the thing up with background music and used it in my
> restaurant. It was so difficult to change the programming that I
> finally,
> mercifully laid it to rest, removed the hard drive and put it in my
> Studio 10,
> making it a Studio 20. I haven't yet figured out what to do with the
> only
> other useful thing inside the case, the LiIon battery. Maybe hook it to
> a
> Jesus cord and see if I can make it explode....
>
> I'll leave open the door just a crack for there to be wholesale changes
> in the
> Vers II unit but if I was a betting man I'd bet against it.
>
> Another thing I should mention about the player is that it is huge.
> Significantly larger than the Archos. If the photos on the web site are
> accurate, they've only changed the color of the physical package and not
> the
> size. It completely fills a pocket of my work pants, the same pocket
> that my
> JBR gets lost in. See the pictures below for a side-by-side.
>
> One last thing. I bought the combo FLASH and HD player package. The
> web site
> leaves the impression that one can load up the FLASH player from the HD.
> I
> asked about this before I bought but did not notice that they neglected
> to
> answer that question. I now know why. this is not possible. The two
> players
> are completely independent. The battery and the storage is in the
> cradle.
> The player has no memory, at least none that is user-accessable. The
> cradle
> is useless without the player being inserted.
>
> I have put up some pictures of the units. Notice the very fragile and
> unsupported pins of the connector between the player and the saddles.
> I'd be
> afraid to mate and un-made these connectors very often, as great care is
> required to avoid bending the pins.
>
> http://bellsouthpwp.net/j/o/johngd/files/Neuros/
>
>
> The next issue is the company and their outright lying. One can count
> on the
> fingers of one hand the number of times I've called someone or something
> a
> liar in public. This is one of them.
>
> I found the company and the product by googling for "open source
> jukebox".
> That was a year ago. They were gaining the benefits of wrapping
> themselves in
> the moniker of "open source" without actually doing it. Back then
> NOTHING had
> been released. We all know what "open source" means. What they're
> doing is
> NOT open source. It is lying about open source.
>
> Still believing their lies, I wrote the company and asked where to find
> the
> sources. Kathryn, their public relations flack, wrote back with a
> series of
> excuses, then came to this list to repeat them. She was nice enough but
> she
> was regurgitating only what she was fed. It was reasonable for her to
> expect
> change a year ago. It is not now. Kathryn, you've had plenty of time
> to find
> a job with a reputable company so there is no excuse for you still
> fronting
> for this outfit. (She's on this list.)
>
> We chatted back and forth in private email a few times until I realized
> that I
> was wasting my time, that they had no plans to EVER release the actual
> firmware sources.
>
> I see on the forum that JoeBorn is emitting the about the same stream of
> excuses he was using last year. I predict that a year from now, if the
> company is still around, he and Kathryn will be emitting even more
> excuses and
> the sources STILL will not be open.
>
> Joe and kathryn, just in case you don't know what Open Source means,
> I'll
> describe the process.
>
> You zip up the entire firmware source code tree along with any
> supporting
> files and the license of your choice (you could do worse than to GPL
> it). You
> put that zip file on your web site and you announce the URL. You let us
> worry
> about development tools. We're sharp guys, we can figure things out.
>
> One other thing before we leave the company. Anyone contemplating
> buying one
> of their products should realize that the company has embraced so-called
> digital rights management (DRM) with open arms. All the proprietary
> formats
> that allow someone else control what you can do with content on your own
> player are supported. I recall some spam I got awhile back offering me
> an
> Audible-enabled player at a discount if I'd sign up with Audible.
>
> At first blush, supporting all formats might seem a good thing to do.
> It's
> not. The more these cancerous formats gain hardware support the more
> they're
> likely to succeed in displacing MP3 and other open formats. If you
> believe
> that it is your right to do anything you wish with something you buy
> then you
> CANNOT support DRM.
>
> I should point out that DRM is the polar opposite of open source. The
> DRMers
> would keep all details secret if they could. A company that supports
> DRM
> cannot also fully support open source. Period.
>
> Let's suppose this company listened to its corporate conscience and
> tomorrow
> released everything. The future for a RockBox port would still not be
> very
> bright. I learned a few things in my chats with Kathryn. The most
> important
> is that this is basically a software player. All the compute-intensive
> stuff
> done in hardware (MAS chip, etc) in the Archos is done in software in
> the
> Neuros' DSP. This includes MP3 encode and decode and even the synthesis
> of
> the FM modulation. Rockbox, in contrast, is basically a user interface
> and a
> data shuffler. A RockBox "port" would most likely involve a rewrite
> from
> scratch, using the feature set of the Archos Rockbox.
>
> I should mention parenthetically that wanting to keep secret how they
> synthesize the FM signal is one excuse given for not releasing the
> sources.
> That's fine. Just take down the claims of being an Open Source company
> and
> everyone can be happy. I'm not sure I can fully understand how
> something as
> basic as generating a frequency modulated baseband signal with a DSP can
> be
> proprietary....
>
> I'm far from a DSP whiz but I know that C isn't the language of choice
> for
> such applications. Maybe GCC could be forced to work but it wouldn't be
> fun.
>
> Marcus, I'll do you a big favor if you like. If you'll pay the postage
> I'll
> give you my driveless Neuros. Scrounge up a drive somewhere and you'll
> have a
> working unit. I even have the optional leather belt holster! You can
> cancel
> your order and save your money. The slower speed of the USB1.1
> interface
> won't matter much - you'll hate the thing so much you won't use it
> enough to
> matter. If you're interested, contact me off-line.
>
> John
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